THE FALL LINE

fall line

THE FALL LINE

        I am pseudo-intellectual, emotionally retarded, and I am financially irresponsible.  In short: I am a writer.  My name is Sammy Hane.

        I took the job reporting for Underground River, assigned to the fashion page because Raluca Stoica had prior commitments.  I guess they figured that the new guy could take the fall.

        So I did: I took the Fall Line of young person’s Halloween costumes by Fall’s Angels.

        Fall’s Angels is two young sisters who design Halloween costumes for the “one percent”, as the snarky say.  Their mother manages them.

        I have an interview with their mother, Nubia Katenatin.  Nubia Katenatin is a striking black woman, tall and slender with haunting eyes and a captivatingly serene manner.

        Nubia begins, “Hope is exhausting.  Faith is a tease.  Believe me you don’t want two witches for daughters.”

        I am thinking that this was a little harsh for a mother to say about her two successful daughters.

        Nubia continues, “Hope will ask me, ‘Mom, tell us about how it was before the Fall?’  Hope is so sweet I can never resist.”

        I clarify, “You mean before you founded Fall’s Angels?”

        Nubia closes her eyes and smiles, slightly shaking her head, and she says, “Of course.  See what I mean?  My daughters refer to the age, I should say time (it feels like an age), before we founded Fall’s Angels Design, they refer that time jokingly as ‘before the Fall’.  At that time I was a struggling ‘gofer’ working for Realm Cosmetics.  It was an exciting form of poverty but when Hope and Faith were born I finally had to become ruthless.”

        I ask bluntly, “Where is their father?”

        Nubia is quiet for a minute and I can see the time traveling in her stare and she finally closes her eyes and says, “He was the Lighting Technician at Realm Cosmetics.  His name was Olumorobo Numamo.  Olumorobo was one of those beautiful black men who just illuminate a woman’s imagination.  Everyone flirted with him, even the young men.  One day he called me into his office and he said that he had a delivery for me.  We made love on the roof.  I, I remember thinking that he must know yoga.  He made his penis undulate like a boa constrictor,” and Nubia stops, her eyes still closed.

        Jesus, I am way too embarrassed to disturb her reverie but she finally continues, saying, “Olumorobo left Realm Cosmetics soon after that.  I heard that he had taken a job with a competitor but he never told me and I never saw him again.  He left me pregnant with Hope and Faith.”

        I say, “So tell me about Hope and Faith.”

        Nubia begins, “When I was in college I loved the poems of Emily Dickinson and I always remember one quote of hers: Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.  Hope was born first.”

        What comes to my mind is the quote that I remembered from college, by Nietzsche: Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.

        Nubia is saying, “I was exhausted after giving birth to Hope and then Faith took forever to be born.  I would feel the contractions but Faith was reluctant to appear,” and Nubia laughs.

        I join her laughter, saying, “Who would want to leave such a good thing in this life?”

        Nubia looks at me oddly with those haunting eyes and then she continues, saying, “I had been afraid of my future when I was pregnant but I always remembered my own mother saying, Fear is a lack of Faith.  So I chose the name Faith so that I always would have courage with me.”

        I say, “It is hard to image you afraid.”

        Nubia says softly, “Even Jesus was afraid when, on the cross, he thought God had forsaken him.”

        What can I say?  I file that one for consideration later over a drink.

        Nubia continues, “To earn more money I made myself indispensable to the designers at Realm Cosmetics but I also began designing my own children’s clothing to save more money.  When I would bring Hope and Faith to the daycare center at work people there started asking me to make clothes for their own children.  Then they encouraged me to sell the designs online.  They showed me how to market my designs by starting on the website Pinterest.”

        I say, “I understand that Hope and Faith showed a genius for design at a very early age.”

        Nubia nods and says, “Yes.  I was a proud mother but that, that took me by surprise.  It was supernatural.  Can you imagine my awe when I saw Hope and Faith at six years old drawing dress designs?  Dress designs that were novel?  I was astonished and I was afraid.”

        I ask, “Afraid?  Really?”

        Nubia nods, “Yes, afraid, at first.  Their designs were other-worldly.  They had ideas for make-up too.”

        I ask, “Is that why you decided to market their designs as Halloween costumes?”

        Nubia replies, “Hope and Faith both liked Halloween.  Better than Christmas if you can believe it!  They were inspired.  They both told me that they wanted to have children wear their designs for Halloween.  I knew that those designs were also haute couture in nature so it was my idea to market them to individual clients, to have them made-to-order, custom-fitted.”

        I ask, “Whose idea was the Fall’s Angels name?”

        Nubia tells me, “My publicist friend, Eleanor Kroes, did an article about Hope and Faith and described them as ‘Fall’s little angels’ and I liked that.  Eleanor also got us our first celebrity clients.”

        I ask, “What do Hope and Faith think of all this?”

        Nubia replies, “My twin daughters are twins like the Moon and the Sun.  Perhaps you would like to ask them yourself?”

        I say, “Sure.  Of course,” thinking ‘there it is; Nubia has never allowed her twin daughters to be interviewed; I am suddenly golden to my jaded unsuspecting editor’.

        Nubia leans forward and reaches behind the enormous flower potted upon her elegant woven table.  I had thought that the flower was artificial; it was so large and without foliage.  But now I study the subtleties of coloration and I am not so sure.  Nubia sees that I am studying the white cup of the inflorescence like an ivory shell and the long, undulated cigar-like appendage that arises white at the base then turns green ascending and which then finally climaxes in a lovely lavender tower nearly a foot tall.

        I ask, “Is that a ‘Jack-In-The-Pulpit’?”

        Nubia smiles and says, “This is a Voodoo Lily, an Amorphophallus.  That is Latin for ‘deformed male sex organ’.”

        I parry, “I hate when that happens.”

        Nubia informs me, “It is elsewhere known as Devil’s Tongue.  The flower appears before the foliage, sometimes months before, and the flower develops the metabolism rate of a hummingbird.  The flower warms-up and gives off a smell like rotten meat.”

        I ask, “This is your conversation piece for parties?”

        Nubia replies, “In the habitat of these flowers, in West Africa, the pollinating insects that this flower must attract are flies, carrion beetles, and other insects that normally seek decomposing animals.”

        I mutter, “Charming.  Why don’t I smell anything bad now?”

        Nubia says cryptically, “Let’s say the Devil’s Tongue has been licked,” and she picks up from behind the Voodoo Lily’s ornamental planter two small figurine fetishes.  They appear vaguely female in their distorted representations but they are alluring in an oddly symbolic manner.

        Nubia kisses one fetish and then the other fetish and sets them down facing me on the woven table.

        I am thinking ‘very dramatic’ when suddenly behind me I hear two female voices chime, “Mother?”

        I am turning my head as Nubia looks past me and says, “Yes, my dears, you were summoned,” and then, to me, she amends teasingly, “by my personal secretary.”

        They are two radiant young women but they are not identical twins in appearance.  And then I hear Nubia say to me, “Fraternal twins.  Hope…,”

        The plump girl with clear eyes that look out innocently at the world nods slightly and smiles sweetly.

        Nubia says, “…and Faith,”

        I nod to the slender, angular girl with the eyes that look inwardly and only flit outward to acknowledge me briefly but still sweetly.

        Nubia concludes her introduction saying of me, “…This is Mr. Sammy Hane, the reporter from Underground River.”

        I say, “Ladies, I am very pleased to be able to speak with you.  Thank you for the honor.”

        Hope and Faith take their mother’s outstretched arms and they sit beside her, Hope at the left hand and Faith at the right hand.

        Hope and Faith say together to me, “Merry Halloween.”

        I grin wryly and reply, “Happy Hallowmas.”

        Hope and Faith smile.

        I get down to business, “So, ladies, what is the theme of the new Fall’s Angels Fall Line?”

        Hope leans forward to deliver the news and as the words leave her lips she seems to be pushed back, saying, “Mummers Play.”

        I repeat, “Mummers Play?” and I look at Nubia and I look at Faith and I look back to Hope and ask, “What is Mummers Play?  Is it about mummies?”

        Hope giggles and says, “Daddies, too.”

        Nubia smiles and reproves Hope gently but earnestly, saying, “Mister Hane doesn’t have time for your torments, Hope.”

        I say, “That’s OK, it was cute.”

        Nubia turns to Faith and asks her, “Faith, would you tell Mister Hane what ‘Mummers Play’ means?”

        Faith purses her smile and then softly enlightens me, saying, “Mummers Plays are European folk plays from the 18th century.  Players wore masks that they called ‘mums’.  The plays were about resurrection and duality…”

        Hope adds, “Good and Evil…”

        Faith continues, “Father Christmas and Beelzebub…”

        Hope says, “Saint George and the Dragon…”

        I interrupt and ask, “So it’s Mummer like ‘mum’, quiet?”

        Hope says, “It’s Mummer like ‘mummer’, a disguised person.”

        Faith asks Hope, mimicking me sweetly, “So, it’s Mummer like ‘mumiya’, an embalmed body?”

        Hope pretends to disagree, saying, “No, it’s Mummer like ‘mummy’, medicine prepared from the tissue of mummies.”

        Faith says, “So, it’s Mummer like the pigment ‘mummy brown…?

        Nubia quenches the silliness by concluding, “No.  Mommy black.  Girls, please.  Mister Hane doesn’t have long.”

        Suddenly the lights dim into a ghastly glow like dried blood.

        I say, “Whoa!”

        The tall stalk of the Voodoo Lily flower begins to undulate like a snake.  From the white cup of the Voodoo Lily inflorescence a foul miasma blossoms and billows.  The Voodoo Lily is vibrating.  I hear the sudden buzzing of a thousand flies, louder, pulsing, throbbing, morphing into one deep chanting voice.

        I leap to my feet, dropping my notepad, yelling, “What the fuck…!”

        Nubia has grabbed her two daughters in her arms and pulled them back as far as she can lean upon the couch.  They scream.

        I hear a crash and I turn around and coming toward me are two enormous versions of the fetish figurines that Nubia had kissed and placed upon the table.

        Behind them in the dim glow I can see other-worldly shapes and figures converging upon me!

        A wet fleshy object coils across my neck and I scream.

        Suddenly the lights return to normal and there is a chorus of laughter.  The other-worldly figures and the enormous fetish figures remove the heads of their costumes and there stand my new co-workers, cameras flashing.  My new editor yells, choking on his laughter, “Welcome aboard, Sammy!”

        I turn around to Nubia and Hope and Faith and they are smiling

        Hope and Faith are holding the stalk of the “Voodoo Lily” and they say, “Merry Halloween.”

        Nubia says, “Welcome to the Fall Line, Mister Sammy Hane.”

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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS

 

I, GOBLIN

I, GOBLIN
In the cave of myself
Self awareness is loneliness 
Feeling my place in the universe that led to me
I have meaning
I lack purpose
Loneliness is lack of purpose
Terrifying lack of purpose
Fear
Fear is lack of faith in the universe
Yes, I should be ashamed
What is the purpose in having no faith?
Is it Self awareness?
Who needs it?
Self awareness is the final moment of falling
Falling from the universe
Without Self awareness there is no Death
Without your Love I never lived
 

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE WITCH AND THE WEREWOLF?

 

witch 1

werewolf 1

 

THE WITCH AND THE WEREWOLF

         Snolly Goster was a twelve-year old witch.  Snolly Goster was out on this Halloween night walking her pet barking spider named Bumdinger.  Snolly Goster held Bumdinger on a leash of gossamer thread.

        Snolly Goster could mingle this night, without a spell, among all the happy young mortal trick-or-treaters and their parent escorts.  This was Snolly Goster’s favorite night.  It was every witch’s birthday.

        Snolly Goster watched the orange Halloween Moon moving behind small dark clouds first as a crescent, then as a cat, then as a face, then as a number 3.  Then the Halloween Moon peeked over the small dark clouds with orange rays like a sunburst.

        Snolly Goster heard from behind herself, “Snolly!  Hey, Snolly.”

        It was Lob Lolly, her werewolf friend. It was very unusual for a witch and a werewolf to be friends but they were young and idealistic.

        Lob Lolly came up to Snolly Goster and smiled shyly.  Then Lob Lolly looked down at Snolly Goster’s pet barking spider, Bumdinger, and Lob Lolly said, “Hey, Bumdinger, you are gettin’ big, little buddy,” then he looked back up at Snolly Goster and asked, “Has Bumdinger woven a web of lies yet?”

        Snolly Goster looked down at Bumdinger and said in baby-talk, “Yes you have, yes you have, haven’t you, that’s right, ’cause you are my sweet little Bumdinger, aren’t you, aren’t you?” and the gossamer leash twirled and vibrated.

        Lob Lolly shyly asked  Snolly Goster, “Can I walk with you?”

        Snolly Goster replied, “Of course.”

        So Lob Lolly and Snolly  Goster strolled side-by-side along the festively bustling neighborhood sidewalks.  Many young trick-or-treaters admired Lob Lolly’s werewolf costume and complimented Snolly Goster’s witch costume.

        Several parents said that Lob Lolly and Snolly Goster were a cute couple.  Lob Lolly silently agreed.

        Lob Lolly whispered a wish upon the Halloween Moon that Snolly Goster could be his girlfriend.  And more.  It was a lot to ask of the Halloween Moon.  Witches and werewolves almost never consorted.  Lob Lolly was still amazed at his good fortune that Snolly Goster had ever even talked with him in the first place.  Witches are so complicated and werewolves are so simple.  But such good fortune had emboldened Lob Lolly and he was sure that the Halloween Moon had a further destiny for him.

        Lob Lolly asked Snolly Goster, “Snolly, have you heard mortals speak of a ‘soul mate’?”

        Snolly Goster stopped while Bumdinger barked at a cricket and she replied, “Sure, Lob.”

        Lob Lolly continued casually, “I think it sounds nice.”

        Snolly Goster replied thoughtfully, “Yes, I think I agree.”

        Lob Lolly sighed, “It’s kind of a shame that we don’t have souls, don’t you think?”

        Snolly Goster and Lob Lolly continued their stroll with Bumdinger.  They passed a little girl in a princess costume who was crying into her mother’s knees.  Snolly Goster said at last, “Lob, you know that souls don’t always get what they want.  They aren’t governed by the Queendom of the Moon as we are.”

        Lob Lolly nodded, “Sure, sure.  But Snolly, don’t you think that Fate would be fun to try?”

        Snolly Goster said, “Lob, ‘just say no’,” but then Snolly Goster leaned toward Lob Lolly and giggled and whispered, “I do have a spell…”

        Lob Lolly trembled and asked, “A soul spell?”

        Snolly Goster nodded and whispered, “The spell rents a soul.”

        Lob Lolly said eagerly, “Snolly, I’ll try it if you will.”

        Snolly Goster debated herself, “This would be the perfect time to try it, but…”

        Lob Lolly asked, “But what?”

        Snolly Goster said gravely, “Lob, there is one danger.  If the rented soul encounters its soul mate then the..,”

        Lob Lolly prodded, “Yes?  If it encounters its soul mate… what?”

        Snolly Goster continued, “Then the, say, werewolf or, say, witch keeps that soul and becomes mortal.”

        Lob Lolly trembled but he asked nonchalantly, “Oh, what are the chances of that?” and then he silently beseeched the Halloween Moon.

        Snolly Goster grinned and whispered, “Do you really want to?  We could.  Should we?” and Snolly Goster giggled nervously.

        Lob Lolly smiled and said, “OK, sure. Let’s do it.  I want to do it.”

        Snolly Goster hesitated demurely, “Lob, this is my first time with this spell.”

        Lob Lolly gently encouraged, “Well, it will be my first time, too, you know?”

        Snolly Goster at last said, “OK, Lob, let’s do it,” and then she lifted Bumdinger up onto her shoulder.

        Lob Lolly crossed his claws as Snolly Goster began to twerk and chant, “Our Moon, Who glides in the heavens, Halloween be thy name, my will be done.  Give us this Fate, this nightly dread.  Fore give us a trespass into those who trespass into us.  Then lead us back from temptation and deliver us… a pizza,” and Snolly Goster said aside to Lob Lolly, “I’m hungry.”

        Lob Lolly trembled and said, “Whoa, the colors!  The colors of my fur!  It is changing.  I feel weird!  I don’t feel werewolf any more.  Whoa!”

        And so Lob Lolly’s fur withdrew under his skin and he stood there a handsome mortal boy.  He looked at Snolly Goster.

        Snolly Goster’s skin became milky and radiant.  Her eyes were no longer dark reflective whirlpools but they had become like lavender gems to Lob Lolly.

        Lob Lolly said urgently to Snolly Goster, “I love you, Snolly Goster,” and then he suddenly doubled over in pain.  His rented soul had taken root and Lob Lolly now belonged to that soul.

        Indeed, Lob Lolly was in the presence of his soul mate as he had hoped and prayed.  But he would be a werewolf no more, forever.  Lob Lolly didn’t care.

        Snolly Goster became frightened and reversed the spell upon herself, as was all she could do.

        Lob Lolly then saw himself back in the whirlpools of Snolly Goster’s eyes.

        Lob Lolly howled, “Snolly!  You are my soul mate!  What has happened!?”

        Snolly Goster covered her mouth and said, “Oh, my Moon, Lob!  Didn’t you realize that a soul mate can be solitary if the other soul doesn’t reciprocate?”

        Lob Lolly howled louder, “Reciprocate?” then still louder, “Reciprocate?!  I love you, Snolly Goster, and I know you love me!  Why didn’t you admit it?  Why?!”

        Snolly Goster chattered, “Oh, my poor Lob!  I am so sorry, but I really don’t think of you that way.  I am so sorry.  You are a friend, a good friend, but you are… you were a werewolf and I have so many other witch’s plans, so many.”

        And Bumdinger, sitting on Snolly Goster’s shoulder, happily spun a great big web with that lie.

 

 

 

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THE PANTRY

pantry

THE PANTRY

 

Oh, God, my head.  Bitch, this is your worst hangover ever!

Where am I?

Jesus, what is my name?!

Oh, yeah, “Leanna”.  How stupid.

God, fuck me.  I’ve never been that drunk before.

Shit, was I given a date-rape drug!?

Come on, bitch, open your eyes.

Ow!

They are open!

I’m blind!!

Stand up, bitch!

Oh, God, I’m blind!  I’m blind!!

Help!  Help me!  Somebody!

Oh, thank God.  Who are you?  I can’t see anything.

Don’t shush me!  I’m fucking blind!  Help me.  Who are you?

How many of you are there?  Can you see?

What?!  What the fuck is this!?  Who are you!?  Who did this!?  Where are we!?

How can you not fucking know!?

Help!!  Help!!

Don’t touch me!  Help!!  Who are you!?  Tell me or I’ll scream even louder!!

Oh, God, oh, God!

I don’t believe you.

How can you not know?

I was at Casa Sangria dancing with everyone else, the “Dancing Dead Halloween Uprising”,  I, I was doing Sangria Shooters.  There was this guy…

Yeah.  That sounds like the same guy!

Wait! What is that!?  I heard a door open!

Aaaah!  Who is screaming!?

Stop screaming!  Why are you all screaming!?  What is it!?  What is it!?

I heard the door close!

What!?  “Serena” is missing!?  What the fuck do you mean!?

What do you mean “like the others”!?

Fuck you all, what do you mean!?

Who is that screaming!?

Serena!?

It’s coming from outside here.

Where are the fucking walls?  Move, bitch.  This room doesn’t sound very big.

What is going on!?

Fuck you, you can all hold hands, I’m not doing anything until you tell me what is happening!

“Grace”?

Yeah, fucking hi, I’m Leanna.  Leanna Donner.

We are all girls?  Did we all get here the same way?

“Luke”?  Yeah!  That was the guy.  I remember.  Luke Halloren.  That’s it!

What the fuck is happening?

Well don’t you think you’d better figure it out faster?

OK, Ok.  If we all hold hands no one else can be taken without all of us.

Fuck yeah we’ll fight.  Gouge eyes.  Just bite his throat out!!  Bite out any flesh you can!

I don’t care!  Whoever did this should die!!

What is that smell?  It smells like shit!  I’m going to puke.

What!?  How long have you all been in here?

Oh, God, I don’t want to die!

Fuck you!  You calm down!

OK, OK.  Together.

Sorry.

Have you all tried pounding on the walls?

Fuck.

Where is the damn door, then.  Flush with the wall?  You’ve tried with your fingernails?

Fuck

OK, OK, I agree.  We all have to be quiet and listen.  The plan is: one touch and we all attack.  Hold hands.

OK, maybe we should sit down back to back?

I doubt we’ll all fall asleep.

Fuck, no I don’t want to sit in shit.

Does he feed us?  Water?

Fuck, we’re dead.

I’m sorry, I’m just scared.  This is the kind of unbelievable shit you hear on the news.

Yeah, how do we know the lights aren’t on?

We are so fucked.  First chance: kill, we’d better kill.

Wait!  Shhh!

I hear something.  Shh, the door.

Aaaaah!  Aaaah!  Grab him.  Everyone!  Kill!  Kill!

Rrrr!  Arr!  Rrrrr-mmm.  Mmmm.  Mmmm.  Rrrr-rrr!  Mmm.  Mmmm.  Mmm.

Stop!  Stop!  He isn’t moving.

What!?  What!?

It’s Serena!?!

No, no, no, no, no!

Aaaaaah!  Aaaaah!  Aaaaah!

God!!  Oh, God, oh, God!

Nooooooooo!!!

He tricked us!!

What have we done!?

Aaaaaah!  Aaaaaah!

He tricked us!!

I’m against a wall.  I must have scrambled backwards on my ass.  My hands are covered in shit.  I’m crying. Everyone is crying.  I am shaking.  I am huddling alone.  Mommy.

 

I hear the door opening.

.

.

.

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SAPPHIRE CURRY

SAPPHO 2_ Édouard-Henri_Avril_(24)

SAPPHIRE CURRY

        Listen to me well, there, Horatio, ol’ pal, while you dream of things in heaven and on earth, do you want to know how fucked-up I am?

        The girl I love, my soul mate, yes, I said it: my soul mate, laugh all you want (I used to), she’s gay.

        So, OK, I’m a student at CSU Fullerton, a Botany Major, and I’m waiting outside my Introduction to Shakespeare class, first day, when here she comes down the hallway.  She’s wearing a snug cashmere sweater and a short skirt.  She’s got long hair, long arms, long legs, and she’s beautiful.  She has a pointed nose, a pointed chin, and her facial features are all sharp and defined.

        “Like facets,” I’m thinking as I imagine how I would sketch her face.

        She walks right on up to me and asks, “Shakespeare?”

        I pinch the corner of my eyeglasses, lifting them and settling them back onto my nose, and I say, “Yes.  Professor’s late, I guess.”

        She says, “I’m Sapphire,” and she seems to pause expecting a predictable reaction.

        I say, “Hey, Sapphire, I’m Aaron.  Sapphire: what a great name.”

        Sapphire says, “For a stripper, right?”

        It is too perfect.  I have a dollar folded in my shirt pocket and I withdraw it and hold it toward her, asking, “Are you a stripper?”

        Sapphire laughs and asks, “Only a dollar?”

        Then I am a little embarrassed at my sudden boldness and I put the dollar back into my shirt pocket and I say the only thing I can think, “I’m a Botany Major.”

        Sapphire asks, “So, are you planning on working for one of the new marijuana companies?”

        I grin and say, “Yeah.  Quality Control.”

        Sapphire smiles and sticks out her hand and says, “Pleased to meet you, then, I’m a Marketing Major.  You don’t forget friends, do you?”

        I do not hesitate to grasp her hand.  I think to myself, “Friends?” and then I hover in my mind above myself and sketch this situation: a gorgeous girl that I have just met is actually talking to me first, and she is being right up-front with me and then she is letting me touch her?

        Then Sapphire asks enthusiastically, “Hey, have you seen that new movie Gravity?”

        I reply, “No, not yet.  I thought it was just going to be all special effects and no story.”

        Sapphire closes her eyes and says, “O-o-oh, it is not,” then those lovely eyes pop open and she says, “Yeah, it does have great special effects.  See it in 3-D, for sure.  But the story is so up-close and personal.  It is about survival.  You think you are right there.  It is intense!”

        It was all like the way I’m talking to you right now.  Like two good friends.  I was saying, “Really.  I was wondering why George Clooney would take second billing in a movie.  I thought maybe he bankrolled it.”

        Sapphire said, “I don’t think so.  Anyway, I don’t want to spoil anything, so go see it for sure.”

        The whole situation was up-close and personal.  It was like an out-of-body experience for me by then.  I look like that actor from the ‘50’s, Wally Cox, and there I was chit-chatting with this total babe who was in the Megan Fox league.  I couldn’t quite assimilate it, but it was easy to talk to her.

        Other people were showing up and waiting for the class.  I saw people flashing glances at Sapphire, of course, and then looking quizzically at me talking with her.  A real Odd Couple.  The Professor finally showed up and we went in and found seats.  Sapphire deliberately sat right in front of me and turned and smiled and said, “Let me know how you like Gravity.”

        The Professor called her name for the roll, “Sapphire Curry?”

        What a perfect name.  She was Hollywood-ready.

        The Professor called my name for the roll, “Aaron Bender?”

        I might as well have been a banker with my looks and my name.

        The next time class met, Sapphire and me were early again and I talked to her about movies in general.  I spend a lot of time at theaters on a weekday night so that I might have the entire theater to myself.  Turns out she liked action movies as much as I did.  She was such a gorgeous tom-boy.

        I was saying, “I haven’t seen Gravity, yet, but I’m going to make time this week.”

        But Sapphire seemed a little preoccupied so I asked her, “Everything ok?” and she replied, “Oh, yeah.  I just misplaced my keys this morning and I’m trying to think where I could have left them.”

        I went for it, swallowing a rock in my throat and asking, “Hey, Sapphire.  You want to, to go to a movie, or something, some time?”

        Sapphire gave me a pained smile and replied, “Oh, Aaron.  I’m, I’m seeing someone.”

        I held myself together and said breezily, “I hope you know that you have ruined my day completely,” and I returned an embarrassed smile.

        Sapphire at least lowered her eyes demurely and smiled appreciatively.

        Well, of course.  There it was.  Nice try, Aaron.  The world made sense again.  Oh, boy, what a fucking relief.

        Sapphire didn’t just abandon me, apparently, and she said sweetly, “I saw Runner Runner.  I hate to say it, but Justin Timberlake was good.”

        I gave her a mock look of incredulity and I said, “I’ll have to see it, now,” and then I made a sad puppy-dog face at her and I added, “Alone.”

        For some reason I didn’t feel demolished by this strike-out.  I still felt that I was in the game; still felt like we were sharing…something, I don’t know what.  Anyway, call it a delusion; I didn’t think that there was “no chance”.

        When the class ended I was walking out beside her, not saying anything, but still with a gooshy warm feeling, some kind of emotional connection, as we stepped into the busy hallway.

        Suddenly there was this other beautiful girl who came right up beside Sapphire and arrested her momentum.

        This beautiful girl said to Sapphire, “I found your keys,” and she handed them to Sapphire.

        Sapphire said, “Oh, Chloe, thank God.  Where were they?”

        Chloe smiled and said, “I found them between the couch cushions.”

        Then Chloe kissed Sapphire full on the mouth and said, “OK, gotta go.  See you tonight.”

        Sapphire smiled and then glanced at me and she turned and walked away down the hall muttering to me, “Later,” without turning around.

        Oh, my God.  My stomach fell.  I just stood there in the middle of the hallway, being jostled.

        The next class I got there early again.  Sapphire was coming down the hall.  Even at a distance I was looking into the sparkle of her eyes.  She stood before me and said, “Hey.”

        I said casually, “Hey.”

        I forced a smile.  She hadn’t committed a crime, I reasoned.  Then the self-pity voice in my head just had to say, “Except stealing your heart for the fun of it,” and I argued with the little wimp, “Fuck you, how is this her fault?”

        Sapphire said softly, “Want to talk about it?”

        I said, “Hey, it’s OK.  You don’t have to say anything.”

        Sapphire said, “I like you, Aaron.  I wasn’t trying to hide anything.  Well, I guess when I said I was ‘seeing someone’ I was being…”

        I said, “Hey, no, no.  It’s OK, really,” then I grinned and shook my head, “It just figures.  Would it help if I wore a dress?”

        Sapphire laughed.

        I said cheerily, “Hey, I finally saw Gravity.”

        Then we talked about it until everyone else showed up and we went into the classroom.

        I had to laugh at myself for thinking the classic, “Too bad she’s gay.”

        Yeah, too fucking goddam bad for me.

        Next class Sapphire wasn’t there.

        I couldn’t stop thinking about her and for the next two classes she was AWOL.  Me?  I was Absent With Out a Lesbian, I thought bitterly, chastising myself for not letting go.

        When she finally showed up for the class again, she was late and she didn’t look at me but I saw she had been crying.  Can I tell you how that made me ache?

        I followed her out of class and, striding beside her, I said, “Sapphire, what’s wrong?”

        Sapphire said with a quivering lip, “I don’t want to talk about it,” but then she said after a moment, “Chloe and I had a terrible… a terrible fight,” and she grimaced as she fought to restrain bursting into tears.

        I said, like I was trying to put out a fire, “Hey, c’mon, that happens to every…couple.”

        Sapphire said, “She was cheating on me.”

        I could only say, “Oh, shit.  I am sorry, Sapphire.  Do you want to talk about it?”

        Sapphire tried to smile and she said to me, “No, thank you Aaron, but, but no,” and then she hustled away from me.

        That night I lost my job.  I was working nights at a sheet metal fabricator.  It was good money but it was extremely boring standing in front of a press all night.  I was almost relieved to be let-go, because I was living on four hours sleep a night.  But now I would use up my savings really fast paying rent.

        Next class I was early as usual and I was really happy just to see Sapphire approaching.  But she looked drained and depressed.  It was exacerbated because she was so beautiful.  It wasn’t right.

        I said, “Hey.”

        Sapphire sighed, “Hey, Aaron.”

        I asked, “How’s it going?”

        Sapphire shrugged and said, almost crying again, “It is over.”

        I said, “Oh, shit.  I am so sorry, Sapphire, really.”

        Sapphire said, “Now I have to find an apartment,” and she shook her head.

        I felt a burst of cold adrenaline in my chest and I just blurted, “Sapphire, I just lost my job and I could use a roommate.  Just for a while.  Until I find another job.  You are more than welcome…”

        Sapphire looked at me and started to say, “Aaron, I don’t think…”

        I interrupted, “Just roommates, Sapphire.  I’m not stupid,” then I joked, “Well…”

        Sapphire snorted a laugh and then covered her mouth and squeezed an urge to cry.

        I said, “Think about it.  You’d be helping me.  We wouldn’t be the worst roommates ever, right?  I’m gone a lot.  I have a great DVD collection!  I won’t have any problem with, with…”

        Sapphire said, “My being left-handed?”

        I grinned and said, “Yeah.”

        Sapphire said, “I really don’t know, Aaron.  It would be weird.  I don’t think you realize…”

        I said, “I realize that we are friends.”

        Where did that come from?  It was brilliant and sincere.  I guess it was true.  We were friends.  There it was.

        Sapphire said softly, “Thank you, Aaron.  I’ll think about it.  I will.”

        A week later she moved into my apartment.  The only problem was: I knew I loved her.

        Remember what you had said?  “You’d be in love with her even if she ate small children.  This is every guy’s fantasy!  She’ll be making out with her dates right in your living room.”  Well, that sure wasn’t my fantasy.

        Remember you had warned me?  “Don’t try to keep her like some kind of pet.”

        I had protested, “We are friends.  We’re just helping each other through a situation.”

        Sapphire liked sports a lot more than I did.  I rarely was interested until playoffs but she was a baseball fan.  I found that out before she moved in and I ordered the cable deluxe sports package just for her.  Of course I pretended like I had it all along but after a few questions I knew she realized that I wasn’t a sports fan.

        Sapphire wasn’t just a sports fan.  She walked the talk, or should I say ran the talk.  She participated in the Tough Mudder race.

        Tough Mudder events are hardcore obstacle courses designed to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, over one million inspiring participants worldwide to date, and more than $5 million raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world.

        When Sapphire told me about it I knew I would have died as a participant but I was still chagrined when she said, “The race is next month.  Want to come and cheer for us?”

        She told me about her Tough Mudder training workouts.  I decided that I couldn’t procrastinate any more my resolve to get in shape.  I wrote down the workout.  She smiled at me as she dictated, “Three times a week.”

Light Jog

Grapevines (running sideways)

Side skips (each way)

High knees

Butt kicks

Spider push-ups (lifting knees to elbows)

Jumping jacks

Squat and press with a weight

Skip rope for two minutes

Mountain climb (on hands and feet with a slippery piece of paper under your feet)

One minute rest

Burpees

Turkish Getups (holding weight with arm straight)

Run for two minutes

Crawl Outs

Ski jumps (side to side)

Side plank dips

One minute rest

Plank climbers

Leap frogs

High knees

Pull-ups with shuffle

Quick feet (run in place, drop and do a push-up)

Squats

One minute rest

Butt kicks

Plank

Run for two minutes

Triceps dips

Jumping jacks for two minutes

Scissor jumps

One minute rest

Run Burpees

Towel pull-ups (chin-ups with towel)

Run two minutes

Squat jumps

Ski jumps (side to side)

Side lunges

One minute rest

Warm-down stretching

        I asked Sapphire if we could work-out together and she grinned and said hesitantly, “OK.”.

        Sapphire looked so good, glistening and making it look easy.  I was like a little brother trying to keep-up.  She laughed at me sometimes.  She goaded me like a coach.  But it was fun.

        The event that year was held in Los Angeles.  I drove her there and Sapphire met up with her seven “girlies” as she called them, her team.  There were guy teams too, of course; firemen, cops, jocks.

        Four hours later I was there at the finish line to cheer her on.  She was cut and scraped and covered with mud.  After all the “girlies” had hugged and, yes, kissed, Sapphire came over to me, still breathing hard and she said, “I was electrocuted, bleeding everywhere, cramping in muscles I didn’t know existed, and definitely saw a bright white light on several occasions.  Ten miles!”

        Sapphire went with her “girlies” to celebrate.  I told her not to mind me and I drove back to the apartment alone.  She didn’t come back until late Sunday.

        Sapphire had a flex-time job with a staffing agency; she was a “headhunter” for client firms and she said, “I’ll try to get you something.”

        Well, I was in better shape physically but mentally I was more retarded than ever: I would think about Sapphire when I jacked-off.

        I forced myself to go to a club and I actually got laid but I still was thinking about Sapphire the whole time.

        Too soon Sapphire was seeing someone new.  Alexandria.  One of her “girlies” had stepped up their relationship.  Alexandria reminded me of the actress Scarlett Johansson.  Under any other circumstance I would have felt damn lucky to associate with her.

        Sapphire was still cautious.  Her breakup with Chloe had scarred her and she was taking it all a lot slower and (I was glad) she didn’t want to rush and move in with Alexandria.

        Did I tell you that Sapphire kept the two cats that she and Chloe had?  Chloe didn’t care about them and Sapphire couldn’t handle them since they were a reminder of their relationship and she couldn’t bear to take them to the pound, so I said that I’d adopt them.  They became mine technically: Butch and Femme.  “Cute” in a way.  Sapphire didn’t think that Alexandria would like her to own reminders of her previous relationship.

        I used my generosity to “cash in” and ask Sapphire about lesbian relations.

        Sapphire said, “There is no rule that one has to be a butch and the other has to be a femme.  We are normal people who love each other.  And there are no gender definitions just because one works and one stays home.”

        Alexandria understood why Sapphire had moved in with me but she was jealous, or suspicious, I think, of my reasons.  I thought that she went out of her way to demonstrate that Sapphire would never think of me “that way”.

        Alexandria sat on the couch with Sapphire and we three were watching The Matrix again, a classic that Sapphire said was one of her favorites.  The lights were low.  Alexandria sat against Sapphire with her arm around her and looked at me and bluntly asked, “So, what do you think of lesbians?”

        I did my best diplomat impression and I pontificated, “Um, I think it is normal.  Ever since there have been people there have been gays.  I think it is just a natural outcome of the shuffling of the genetic cards in sexual procreation.  There is a spectrum.”

        Alexandria challenged me, saying, “So gays are just unavoidable fall-out?”

        Sapphire looked at me.

        I said quickly, “No, no.  Traits cost energy and they are not maintained in nature unless they are either totally neutral in survival benefit or they are positive in survival benefit.  Gays have always been here.  In fact, since even a neutral trail is hard to ‘justify’ in terms of evolutionary energy, I think that it must be essential to humanity, to the sexual process.”

        Alexandria seemed a little annoyed that I was being so reasonable in front of Sapphire and she suddenly asked me, “So, are there gay plants?”

        Sapphire laughed and I followed, thinking fast for an answer and after a moment I just said, “Well, there is my graduate thesis!”

        The atmosphere calmed and we went back to watching my DVD of The Matrix with the lights down low.  But out of the corner of my eye I saw Alexandria turn Sapphire’s face toward her and kiss her deeply.  I saw the sparkle in Alexandria’s one eye on me, like she wanted me to watch.  Then Alexandria slipped her hand up Sapphire’s thigh and under her skirt and she began to finger-fuck her.

        I got up as quickly and as gently as I could and I went to my room and shut the door and laid myself down on my bed and took deep breaths and tried to think about anything else.

        I noticed pretty soon that Sapphire and Alexandria were always drinking wine, always celebrating something.  They were excited to be together.  I could see that Sapphire was starting to feel carefree again.

        At the same time it seemed that they were always crying about something, like they were looking for reasons to be emotional.

        I also heard them having sex almost every night.  Sometimes (since I was now getting buff with Sapphire’s workouts) I’d actually score at a club and bring my date home and we’d listen to Sapphire and Alexandria and then we would both get worked-up.

        I was starting to look forward to those times when Sapphire would get worried wondering why Alexandria hadn’t answered a text message, or why Alexandria was so late without calling.  It was those times I would be her sympathetic ear or her shoulder to cry on.

        What the hell was I?  Don’t answer that.

        But a few months later it happened.

        Sapphire suddenly said to me one evening as she and I were watching my DVD of Avatar, “Aaron, we need to talk.”

        I thought apprehensively of the old Seinfeld line about relationships, “Nobody needs to talk,” and then I said, “OK?”

        Sapphire gave me a radiant smile and said happily, “Be happy for me.  I have big news.  Alexandria asked me to marry her.”

        While my mind went “What?!” my mouth just opened.  After a million microseconds I said enthusiastically, “Whoa, that is great.”

        I initiated a hug like I was grabbing a life preserver on a sinking ship.

        Sapphire was beaming at me and I sensed she had more news but in the ensuing breach of silence I asked, “So, so tell me, when did this all happen?”

        Sapphire said, “Alexandria and I have been talking about it for a while.  She asked me yesterday.  It was so beautiful.  We were at her apartment and suddenly there was a strange noise coming from the kitchen…,” she paused and put her left hand fingertips to her quivering lips and continued, “Alexandria pretended to be concerned and we both walked into the kitchen and, and all my girlies were there and they all started singing I Think I Want To Marry You, by Bruno Mars, while, while Alexandria got down on one knee and proposed to me,” and then Sapphire couldn’t speak any more without crying and she held up her engagement finger with the beautiful ring that sparkled like Alexandria’s eye that night she started finger-fucking Sapphire right next to me.

        I said with my frozen glee, “That is just great.  Really, really great.”

        Then Sapphire got serious and she took my hand and said, “Aaron.  There, there is something I want to ask you.  I talked about this with Alexandria and we made a deal.”

        I was thinking, “What?  Best Man at a lesbian wedding?”

        Sapphire said, “We want to have a child.  As soon as we can.  Aaron, Alexandria said she is OK if you want to be the sperm donor.”

        While my mind went “What?!” my mouth just opened.  After a million microseconds I said, “What?!”

        Sapphire looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t you see?  We can make good what could never be between us.  I do love you, in the only way I can, Aaron, but we can never be.  You know that.  I think I know how you really feel and I want to give you the only happiness that I am able to give you.  If you can agree.  If you can’t, I will understand, but I will be sad, Aaron, honestly.”

        I flapped my lips and stuttered, “What, what does Alexandria think of that?!”  All of my emotions were colliding in my brain pan, in, in… a fiery curry, and I began to laugh.

        Sapphire thought I was making fun of Alexandria and she said to me, sounding to me a little hurt, “Alexandria said that she would agree to this under one condition…”

        And then I realized why she sounded hurt as she began to hurt me, saying, “Alexandria says we must agree never to see each other again.  And you must not, cannot have anything more to do with the child…or me.”

        How far did the world spin while I just sat there blinking at Sapphire?

        Sapphire said, “OK, I know that’s a lot to take in, Aaron.  If you want to be the sperm donor just tell me in the next couple days, OK?  OK?” and she kissed me lightly on the lips.

        I was just blinking like a toy, sitting there.

        Sapphire then said, “I’m going to be staying at Alexandria’s from now on.  I’ll be gathering my stuff over the next couple of days.  You have been a true friend, Aaron.  Aaron?”

        I congealed enough to say, “Yeah, yeah.  Yeah.  No problem.  Sure,” and I waved like a mechanical toy as she went out the door.

        Whoa.

        I looked dumbly at the TV screen and Avatar and I actually wished I could have a female avatar so that I could then be with Sapphire.  That was the extent of my grasping at straws.  Either way I was going to lose Sapphire and I knew it.  This was it.

        Time to grow up, Peter Pan.

        The next day I stayed home and I tried to grow up.  To know that Sapphire might bear a child of mine was the only ember of love that I could possibly hope for.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so unbearable.

        That evening I laid myself back on my bed and was staring at a kaleidoscope of myriad memories on my dark ceiling.  I heard the front door open.  Sapphire had come back for something.  I heard rustling as she must have been gathering a few things.  There was a strange noise coming from the kitchen.

        Then Sapphire came into my bedroom, backlit by the golden kitchen light.  She wore a token transparent baby-doll nighty.  I was reduced to a pair of eyes on top of a Louisville Slugger hard-on.  She stepped straight toward me.

        She was holding two big glasses of wine and she said, “Don’t worry; I’ve had two myself already.”

        I took my wine glass but I just set it on the nightstand and I reached for her and she knelt onto the bed and embraced me.  I squeezed her too hard and wolfed her tongue and fell back and she exhaled through her nose and made an alarmed “Mmmm?!” sound and then we both snorted wetly but I plunged back into her mouth.

        With an inebriated astuteness she lectured to me in husky whispers about the electrical connection between her nipples and her vagina.

        She guided me precisely to her G-spot.  I had always thought that it was just a legend.

        Time became heat and humidity and sweat and softness and tongue and teeth.

        Sapphire suddenly grabbed and held my wooden bat.  She knew when I was swinging for the fence too soon.  She held me against herself in a seventh inning stretch and she actually spoke softly and coolly about baseball.  I laughed at her clever little joke.  But she made sure that the game went extra innings.

        There is a botany term dissilient which means “bursting apart; bursting open”.  Sapphire and I were at last extremely dissilient.  I couldn’t know for sure if Sapphire had faked-it.  I prefer to believe that she had not.

        I gasped with certainty, “That was a baby!”

        Sapphire smiled and whispered to me, “If it’s a girl, I’ll call her Ruth.”

        I wasn’t invited to the wedding and I was kind of glad, anyway.

        The last time I saw Sapphire she was jetting-off on the back of Alexandria’s motorcycle after saying good-bye to me.  She had surreptitiously nodded at me and I knew that she was pregnant.  I felt blue, like crying.

#

        I now have been married and divorced three times.  It was always the same: I was “emotionally unavailable” and I was “never satisfied”.

        Lately I have been daydreaming and hoping that one day I’ll answer a knock at the door and then standing there will be the child that Sapphire and I share.

#

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THE CARROT AND THE STICKUP

 

  carrot and stickup

THE CARROT AND THE STICKUP

        Bugs Bunny is my hero.  I wish I could say he was my role-model but he is not; he is my exact opposite.  That is why I love him.

        Bugs Bunny is “self-assured, nonchalant, imperturbable, contemplative, plays it cool, but can get hot under the collar.  And above all he’s a very ‘aware’ character.  Well aware that he is appearing in an animated cartoon”.

        Last night after work I was tired.  I was sitting on the couch hunched over my netbook that was set upon my plastic storage bin “coffee table”.  I was working on my first play, entitled The Fourth Wall.  I hit a wall in the plot and I leaned back, lighted up a quick-smoke cigar, clutched the TV remote and found the cable cartoon channel on the big flat screen TV upon the wall.

        A Bugs Bunny Marathon.

        I said to the TV, “Uh-oh.  My writing might be over for the night.”

        Bugs Bunny turned to face me and he said, “You should live so long as to finish that play.”

        I was incredulous.  I stammered, “Bugs, are, are you Jewish?”

        Bugs said, “Oy!  No.  My father was “Bugs” Hardaway, from Texas.  Are there Jews in Texas?”

        I couldn’t understand the question so Bugs told me, “My father did work in California for Leon Schlesinger.”

        I shook my head rapidly to clear my mind.  I heard pattering all around and I stopped shaking my head and I opened my eyes to see carrots scattering and rolling around me.

        Bugs said, “I like how you think,” and then he clambered out of my TV and he said, “But I don’t care much for your personal hygiene.”

        Bugs collected a fistful of carrots and then he bit into one as he peered over my netbook screen, looking upside down at what I had written.

        Bugs asked, “What’s up, Doc?”

        I said, “I’m writing a play.  It’s called The Fourth Wall.”

        Bugs smacked, “Oh, yeah, I get it.  You as the audience are the fourth wall of the stage.  Well…Hey, Doc, what’d yah say yer name was?”

        I said, “They call me ASH.”

        Bugs continued, “Well, ASS, here’s the thing:  If you are the “Fourth Wall” then who are THEY!” and he startled me as he pointed up toward YOU!

        I cowered on the couch and I started to shake and to cry tears of terror, saying, “Oh, my dear God, THOSE are blog readers?!”

        Bugs was instantly sitting beside me, wearing a dress and makeup and cradling me.  He stared up at YOU calmly and smacked, “Aw, c’mon, ASS, that one there ain’t so bad.  I seen worse.”

        I hid my face in his furry neck and I whimpered, “Make them go away!”

        Bugs cooed at me, “There, there, sweet ASS.  Your writing is doing that.”

        I looked up into his face and I asked, “Bugs, why are you in drag?”

        Bugs smacked sweetly, “Silly ASS, I’m Hollywood’s original Drag Queen,” and then he scowled down into my face and asked, “You don’t have a carrot up your ass about that, do you?”

        I shook my head quickly and said, “No. No.”

        More carrots fell from my ears.

        Bugs picked up one of the carrots and he held it like a dagger.  Raising it behind me he asked, “Would you like one?”

        I awoke on my couch screaming, “No!!”

        But I was sitting on the TV remote.

        On the TV screen the channel was flicking between the Bugs Bunny Marathon and the Hollywood Halloween Parade.

 

 

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CHRISTIANS HAVE MADE A CRUCIAL ERROR

Christians have made a crucial error

Crucial
That’s funny
The root of the word “crucial” is the word “cross”

(Don’t be cross)

It is said that God is Love but the truth is that Love is God

Because

Everything in Nature bears energy
Everything in Nature is driven to give that energy away
Driven
It is the archetype of Desire
To give that energy away and thereby cease to be

 (Energy is not a “thing”
Energy is a Relationship of “things”
Look at any mathematical description of “Energy”
It is always “something is moving relative to something else”)

All of Nature “desires” to give energy away, to yield its Form, to cease its Identity
Physicists call that “Entropy”
To become undifferentiated
To become God?
No
“God” is a form, a differentiation from utter nothingness
No Thing
Unimaginable nothingness
Love is the imagination of all those “things”
Love sustains Nature,
All Gods,
God.
Love is God

Love is You to Me

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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS